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Capon Springs

Hampshire County, West Virginia

Capon Springs is an unincorporated, historic resort town. The post office is located on Back Creek Road, Capon Springs, WV 26823.


Beginnings [1]

The resort of Capon Springs and Farms grew up around the mineral spring of Capon Spring. First discovered by Henry Frye in the late 1760s, it has long been believed that the spring contained medicinal qualities. The reputation of its healing qualities grew quickly, and in 1787, the spring and about twenty acres of land around it were laid off into lots and streets known as the "Town of Watson." During the nineteenth century, the fame of the springs continued to grow. In 1850 the Mountain House hotel building was constructed. An imposing structure rising four stories high, it was destroyed by fire in 1911. Also in 1850, the State of Virginia built the Greek Revival-style Pavilions and President's Cottage to house the baths. During the period from the mid-nineteenth century until the 1910s, Capon Springs continued to prosper and grow. Many buildings were constructed in the 1880s when the property was under the, ownership of William H. Sale. After the tragic fire of the Mountain House in 1911, the resort began to deteriorate. It was not until the 1930s, under the ownership of Louis Austin, that Capon Springs recaptured its fame and grandeur as a summer resort. Still under Austin family ownership, Capon Springs and Farms is one of the best-preserved nineteenth-century spring resorts in the state.

Capon Springs in Hampshire County is one of eight known warm springs in West Virginia. Located within Virginia until 1863 when the state of West Virginia was created, it was one of the most popular springs in the Valley of Virginia and was believed to have curative powers. Capon Springs achieved a national reputation as one of the state's premier spring resorts. Since its discovery in 1765 to the present, visitors have flocked to the springs, both for its healing qualities and the recreational aspects of the resort.

Capon followed a typical pattern of development, initially consisting of an impermanent settlement of cabins and tents. Influential in its growth were the tenures of a Board of Trustees, the Ricard firm, William Sale, Charles Nelson, Will Atkinson, and Louis Austin, all of whom made substantial contributions to the promotion of the springs.

By 1833, a small settlement had been established. The historian Samuel Kercheval wrote that "there are seventeen or eighteen houses erected without regard to regularity and a boarding establishment capable of accommodating fifty to sixty visitors which is kept in excellent style." This description is similar to those recorded for the many other spring resorts developing at this time. The boarding house was likely operated by Major William Herin, who upon his death, passed the property to his stepson, Julius C. Waddle. In his description, Kercheval also mentions a lottery to raise funds for road improvements.

  1. Maral Kalbian and Julie Yosmik, Capon Springs, Hampshire County, WV, nomination document, 1993, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.